Garden to Table reaches traditionally underserved Yamhill County residents

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The number of Latinos in Yamhill County continues to grow, making up about 16% of the county’s population. However, Latinos, especially those in lower-income households, along with other underserved residents, have traditionally been a hard-to-reach group for the Oregon State University Extension Service Master Gardener program.

In response, Heather Stoven, OSU Extension Master Gardener coordinator in Yamhill County, participated in the Seed to Supper program, a free, six-week course that gives novice adult gardeners the tools they need to successfully grow and enjoy their own food.

Seed to Supper is a collaborative effort of the Oregon Food Bank and OSU Extension. In 2016, this program was adopted by the Extension Master Gardeners Yamhill County in partnership with the Yamhill Community Action Partnership (YCAP). In 2020, Master Gardeners formed a new program, called Garden to Table. The partnership with YCAP continues as Master Gardeners continues to design food production gardening courses.

Eighty-five participants enrolled in the inaugural spring Garden to Table class. Nearly all of them – 81 – completed the six weekly gardening classes including 56 in the English class and 25 in the Spanish classes. Both English and Spanish classes consisted of six presentations with hands-on/demonstration included in community gardens in Newberg, McMinnville and Willamina. Master Gardeners were the instructors and mentors for the participants. The mentors provided support to all participants during the classes and throughout the gardening season.

In 2023, raised beds or containers with soil or a community garden bed were offered to all of the spring class low-income participants at no cost due to a grant from First Federal Bank in Newberg. These participants received 30 raised beds and 15 containers.

Due to high interest in this program, a six-week general gardening class was offered to non-low-income individuals in fall 2023. This class filled with 40 participants.

Near the end of 2023, a survey was distributed to the spring class participants. Of the respondents, 90% believed the course made a positive impact on their choice of dietary lifestyle and health overall. Ninety-one percent said they used their provided garden space for an average of 5.3 months. Seventy-eight percent reported eating two or more extra fruit or vegetable portions per week. Respondents said they saved on average $22.50 per week during the growing season. Nearly all – 96% – plan to grow produce in 2024.

Because of the success of Garden to Table, the Housing Authority of Yamhill County recognized the benefit of community gardens in their complexes. In 2023, Garden to Table provided support to build a new community garden at Tice Park Apartments in McMinnville that includes 15 new raised beds and 10 new containers to serve 60-80 residents.

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